Xanthan Gum E415

posted in: Questions, Vegan | 9
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We received an email recently from one of our amazing vendors who questioned whether or not xanthan gum (E415) is actually vegan friendly.  A little confused, we decided to look further into this additive/thickener. What is it actually made of, how is it made and, most importantly, is it vegan?

xanthan gum vegan

Originally, we had xanthan gum listed as a vegan friendly additive but after doing some research, we have removed it from the vegan list. Read on below to find out why.

What is Xanthan Gum?

Xanthan gum is generally used as a thickening agent or as an emulsifier. It is used to give a gel-like consistency and helps to bind individual ingredients.  You can find xanthan gum in a variety of everyday products ranging from cosmetics to food.

Xanthan gum is obtained from bacterial fermentation.

Is Xanthan Gum Vegan?

As with most food additives, there is not one hard and fast answer.  It is possible to obtain vegan friendly xanthan gum, but it is also a smart idea not to assume that all xanthan gum is vegan friendly.  Why isn’t it vegan friendly if it is derived from bacterial fermentation?  The issue lies in the manufacturing process, or more specifically, during the clarification of the additive.  As described in the patent for xanthan gum a patent for purifying xanthan gum, chicken lysozyme can be used.  Additionally, in some instances, we found certain xanthan gum had been derived from fermentation of whey (a dairy by-product).chicken lysozyme

For the purpose of our website, we wanted to err on the safe side so we have removed it from our vegan friendly list of food additives.  If ever in doubt, always ask the manufacturer directly who should be able to tell you the origins of their xanthan gum.  Or, alternatively, look out for products where their xanthan gum is specifically marked as vegan friendly.

Have you been caught out by other additives which you always thought were vegan friendly?  Tell us about it below!


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9 Responses

  1. Is all xanthan gum had a gras certification? Because I just read it had and animal testing was utilised to get it.

  2. How can vegans say that they only eat plant based products when bacteria is clearly not a plant? Even if a vegan wanted to avoid bacteria produced food or drink (anything fermented), they would still be eating bacteria as it is on everything.

    • The bacterial fermentation / bacteria is not the issue – rather the issue is that on occasion, animal products are used during this process.

      I am vegan and do not avoid fermented products, fermentation is not an indication that something isn’t vegan. Eg..kombucha, kimchi, tempeh, all involve fermentation.

    • Bacteria are not animals. Vegans don’t eat animals or animal products. We eat fungi too but they are not plants.

  3. Awesome post.

  4. Thanks for the clarification.

    I started experimenting in my kitchen and, while I am vegan for 3 years, I stayed away from recipes including the xanthan gum simply because I did not know what it was. After making a research though (read your article and this one – http://veganmeter.com/is-xanthan-gum-vegan/), I understand what it is all about.

    I am buying my vegan xanthan gum here: https://www.healthysupplies.co.uk/xanthan-gum-gluten-free-binder-doves.html and am happy with the results of my experiments. What’s most important, I am sure it is vegan.

    Cheers :))

  5. Disgruntled reader

    The patent you linked above does not state that chicken lysozyme is used in manufacturing Xanthan Gum.

    It is a patent for “Ophthalmic drug delivery vehicles which are administrable as a liquid and which gel upon contact with the eyes are disclosed” (i.e. this is a patent for eye drops, not for Xanthan Gum). Xanthan Gum is an ingredient in this product. Chicken lysozyme is only mentioned twice in this entire patent. In one case, the Xanthan Gum is added to a solution of chicken lysozyme, and in the other case the Xanthan Gum is not added to a solution of chicken lysozyme. No-where does it state that the chicken lysozyme is used in the manufacturing of Xanthan Gum. The chicken lysozyme is a completely separate product to the Xanthan Gum.

    If chicken lysozyme is used in manufacturing Xanthan Gum, please provide your readers with a correct source for this information. Otherwise, you should delete this article as it is clearly an incorrect interpretation of the patent.

    • Hi,

      Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment and to point out an obvious mistake! I’m not sure how I managed to link to the Gelling ophthalmic compositions containing xanthan gum patent but it is obviously a link to the incorrect one so thank you for taking the time to point this out. I have updated the post to the correct patent I originally wanted to refer to – Process of purifying xanthan gum using an alkaline protease and lysozyme.

      I hope this gives more insight into why we believe not all xanthan gum is vegan friendly and makes more sense since I’m linking to the correct patent now.

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